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Condo Documents: A Quick Guide for Property Managers

Condo Review, Investors, Lenders,
Published: Feb 26, 2024
by Editorial team
blog

Condominium living is a popular choice for many because of the convenience, amenities, and community it offers. But every condo comes with its condo association (COA) and condo documents. 

As property managers know, dealing with all the COA documents can quickly get out of control, putting even more emphasis on fully mastering condo documents.

Condo documents outline the rules, financial details, and day-to-day procedures needed to effectively manage condominium properties and ensure a peaceful living environment for residents. 

In this guide, we’ll go over the basics, list the condo documents, and explain how they impact the work of property managers to help you oversee your condo properties more effectively. 

Let’s jump in. 

What Are Condo Documents? And Why Are They Important for Property Managers? 

piles of documents stalked on top of each other in an office environment

Condo documents are a set of legal papers that explain the rules, finances, and day-to-day workings of a condo community. 

These documents are crucial for property managers because they give them the guidelines they need to keep condo properties in good shape, creating a peaceful living environment for everyone. 

Knowing condo documents well helps property managers follow the rules, make smart investing decisions, and run the property smoothly according to community guidelines.

The Four Pillars of Condo Documents

annexation in real estate Greek architectural building

The Declaration of Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions (CC&Rs), Bylaws, Articles of Incorporation, and Rules are the pillars of condo documents. Savvy property managers know how to use them to oversee and maintain condominium properties effectively.

So here is what each entails and how it’s relevant for property management.

1. Declaration of Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions (CC&Rs):

The CC&Rs outline the authority of a condo association (COA) to control the property and collect dues. They define the boundaries of each condo, parking space, deck, etc., often using an attached drawing of the property known as a Condominium Plan.

The CC&Rs also specify the rights and obligations of both the condo owners and the COA. This includes details on: 

The covenants and conditions may contain information about the architectural standards of the property, restrictions on the use of common areas, and the process for resolving disputes within the community.

The CC&Rs also contain usage and alteration restrictions, the division of costs among the owners, and collection, enforcement, and dispute resolution procedures.

Relevance to Property Managers: The information in CC&Rs aids property managers in enforcing property maintenance standards, overseeing renovation compliance, and regulating common area use.

2. Bylaws

The Bylaws of a condominium contain the operating procedures of the COA. For example, how meetings are conducted, the process for electing board members, and the roles and responsibilities of each board member. They provide procedures for amending crucial governing documents that dictate day-to-day condo community governance. 

Condo bylaws generally include details on how to call and conduct a meeting, voting procedures, how to levy assessments, how to manage association business, and record-keeping guidelines.

In larger COAs, bylaws often establish a board of directors or other governing body, along with a group of officers, to make decisions and supervise the association’s day-to-day operations.

Relevance to Property Managers: Bylaws help property managers facilitate board meetings, ensure proper financial governance, and aid in resolving disputes among residents.

3. Articles of Incorporation

The Articles of Incorporation establish the legal framework for the condo association within the condominium community, outlining its purpose, structure, and organizational details. 

The articles include details such as the corporation’s name, purpose, principal office location, and the number of directors. They lay the legal foundation for the COA and outline how it operates and its organizational structure, including capital details.

Relevance to Property Managers: The Articles of Incorporation help property managers understand the association’s legal framework, organizational structure, and decision-making authority.

4. Rules

The Rules of a condominium generally cover regulations governing the day-to-day life of the residence. These rules might cover aspects like: 

  • Noise levels
  • Parking
  • Pet ownership
  • Use of amenities 
  • Common areas conduct
  • Architectural standards

The Rules also provide information on the consequences of breaking them. These can range from fines to legal action.

Relevance to Property Managers: Property managers rely on these rules to enforce community guidelines, address resident concerns, and uphold a peaceful and harmonious living environment within the condominium community.

8 Steps in Reviewing Condo Documents as a Property Manager

To oversee the condominiums they’ve been entrusted with effectively, property managers should carefully review all condo documents.

Here are a few steps to help you organize the process of gathering and reviewing all condo documents.

1. Gather All Documents

Collect all relevant condo documents, including the Declaration of Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions (CC&Rs), Bylaws, Articles of Incorporation, and Rules, from the homeowners’ association or the property owner.

2. Thorough Reading

Carefully read through each document to understand the specific rules, regulations, and guidelines that govern the condominium community. Pay attention to sections related to property maintenance, renovation guidelines, common area usage, dispute resolution, and financial obligations.

3. Identify Key Provisions

Highlight and make note of key provisions that are essential for day-to-day management, such as rules regarding common area maintenance, noise restrictions, pet policies, architectural guidelines, and the process for resolving disputes.

If needed, seek guidance from legal counsel or a real estate attorney to ensure a complete understanding of the legal implications and obligations outlined in the condo documents.

5. Assess Financial Obligations

Review the financial aspects of the documents, including assessment fees, budgeting procedures, reserve fund requirements, and any special assessments, to understand the financial responsibilities and planning required for effective management.

6. Communication and Clarification

Communicate with the condo association board or the property owner to seek clarification on any ambiguous or unclear provisions within the documents.

7. Create a Reference Guide

Summarize the key points and provisions from the condo documents into a reference guide for easy access and future use.

8. Implement Policies and Procedures

Develop operational policies and procedures based on the condo documents to ensure compliance and efficient management of the property.

While reviewing the condo documents, property managers should pay close attention to some key information that reveals how well the COA manages the community.

Understanding the COA’s Management and Financial Health through Condo Documents

two women talking in front of computer hoa closing documents

The condo documents offer critical information that can help property managers assess the overall governance, financial stability, and operational aspects of the association. 

Here’s how condo documents can aid property managers

1. Financial Health Assessment

The financial statements and budgeting procedures outlined in the documents can provide property managers with insights into the association’s financial health, including the adequacy of reserve funds and the ability to fund necessary maintenance and repairs.

2. Operational Guidelines

Understanding the maintenance and repair responsibilities for common areas and individual units can help property managers assess the association’s approach to property upkeep and its impact on the overall health of the community.

3. Governance and Decision-Making

Bylaws and meeting minutes can offer a glimpse into the decision-making processes, governance structure, and historical context of the association’s operations, providing valuable context for property managers as to how the property has been developed over time.

4. Dispute Resolution and Compliance

The documents can outline the procedures for enforcing rules and regulations, providing property managers with an understanding of how the association manages disputes and ensures compliance among residents.

5. Insurance Coverage

Details of insurance coverage for common areas and individual units can offer insights into the association’s approach to risk management and protection of its assets.

6. Community Engagement and Governance

Understanding the rules and regulations related to resident conduct, use of amenities, and community engagement can help property managers gauge the overall health of the association in fostering a stable living environment.

To Wrap Up

front facade of red-pink building balconies-types of liens article

To be effective in their condominium management, property managers must thoroughly understand all aspects of the condo documents. 

With this guide, we aim to empower you with the knowledge to create positive, thriving condo communities while maintaining community standards. And we offer tips on understanding the financial health of the COA and its management, so you can better protect your customers and create a well-maintained living environment. 

If you’re interested in more tips on COAs, property management, and everything in between, sign up for Rexera’s blog. 

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